27 March 2014

Brief Updates on Situation in Heilongjiang

This afternoon, lawyer Zhang Junjie was the first of the four detained lawyers to be released from the Qixing Administrative Detention Center. After a shower, he was driven by domestic security police to the airport in Jiamusi and put on a plane to Harbin.

In a message, Zhang said that he had unbearable pain in his lower back. He intended to go back to Zhengzhou, Henan, to seek treatment and an expert evaluation of his injuries. He also indicated that he would file a report with the Henan Department of Judicial Administration and call upon the (provincial?) lawyers association to take action.

Zhang's physical state seems to confirm the grim speculation of the past couple of days that one of the reasons that police have barred lawyers from meeting with their colleagues detained at the Qixing facility is that those detained lawyers were subjected to torture or other physical punishment. Today, there were reports that the four detained lawyers had each suffered "varying degrees of torture" (均受到不同程度的酷刑) and that a physician had been seen going back and forth from the jail on each of the past three days. There seems to be concern that Zhang Junjie's injuries might be the least serious of the four lawyers. (Yesterday, there were reports that detainees leaving the facility had seen one of the lawyers beaten on the head with a shoe.)

Meanwhile, lawyer Cai Ying has been contacted by officials from the Hunan Department of Judicial Affairs, who have instructed him not to represent Tang Jitian. This act of intimidation is a sign that Tang's situation may be quite serious.

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